Wednesday, May 25, 2022

As Rich Nations Emit More CO2, Poor Nations Bear The Brunt

Highlighting emissions inequality between rich and poor countries, Oxfam’s report ‘Inequality Kills’ noted that rich countries are responsible for an estimated 92 per cent of all excess historic emissions.

As Rich Nations Emit More CO2, Poor Nations Bear The Brunt
The richest 10 per cent of global population emits nearly 48 per cent of global emissions in 2019. Deposit Photos

Among various inequalities that Oxfam’s recent report “Inequality Kills” lists, one is emissions inequality. According to the report, rich countries emit far more than poor countries but have fewer consequences to bear in comparison to poorer countries. It is estimated that by 2030, the climate crisis could kill 2,31,000 people each year in poor countries. Climate change manifests as malnutrition, extreme heat, diseases and more intense and frequent weather-related natural disasters. The Oxfam report observes that the vast majority of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, which have contributed relatively little to greenhouse gas emissions.

At the ongoing World Economic Forum's (WEF) Davos Agenda 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revealed, “With 17 per cent of the world's population, India contributes only 5 per cent to global carbon emissions but the commitment to tackle the climate challenge is 100 per cent.”

In a study published by The Lancet Planetary Health journal last year, researchers pointed out that nearly 740,000 excess deaths in India annually could be related to climate change.

Another study authored by Lucas Chanel, Co-director of World Inequality Lab, estimated global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inequality between 1990 and 2019 and came up with data that showed that the richest 10 per cent of the global population emits nearly 48 per cent of global emissions in 2019, the top 1 per cent emits 17 per cent of the total, whereas the poorest half of the global population emits 12 per cent of global emissions. This study was published on the World Inequality Database in October 2021.

Inequality in accessing technologies and knowledge

Coming back to the Oxfam report, it also emphasizes the inequality between countries in their access to technology and knowledge which helps them to address climate change. It says, “There is also significant inequality between countries in access to knowledge and technologies that are vital to both adapting to climate breakdown, and reducing and preventing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, rich countries, on behalf of their domestic companies, have filed complaints with the WTO as low- and middle-income countries have encouraged the growth of their renewable energy industries.”  

Wealthiest leave the maximum carbon footprint

The Oxfam report puts the onus of today’s climate crisis on over-consumption by the world’s richest people. Recent data from Oxfam shows that the wealthiest 1 per cent of humanity, are responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50 per cent and that by 2030, their carbon footprints are set to be 30 times greater than the level compatible with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

The report cites the consumption data estimates which reveals that Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli billionaire and owner of Chelsea Football Club whose assets include a superyacht and a custom-designed Boeing 767, is responsible for at least 33,859 tonnes of CO2 emissions consumption in a year. It would take the average person over 7,000 years to use the same amount.

Women suffer more

While some billionaires have reportedly bought bunkers to escape extreme climate change catastrophes, the poorest people who have contributed least to this crisis stand to lose their homes and livelihoods. Women will be more vulnerable to gender violence and will have to walk more to fetch water. The report mentions that the poorest women are also forced to take on more unpaid care work to support members of their families and communities whose health has been compromised by increased pollution and heatwaves associated with the climate crisis.

The Oxfam report urges governments to take measures that will curb over-consumption by the richest, implement wealth taxes and carbon taxes and ban luxury carbon-intensive goods.